Building the Fit Organization

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Six Core Principles for Making Your Company Stronger, Faster, and More Competitive


ISBN: 978-1259587177

Published: September 2015

Author: Daniel Markovitz

Pages: 208

Publisher: McGraw Hill



Main description

Everyone knows that in order to reach optimum levels of health, you have to exercise–and that you have to keep at it, day after day after day. No big secret here.

It’s the same with process improvement, and, specifically, lean processes. Everything there is to know about Lean has been revealed. Countless books, articles, and seminars provide business leaders all the information they need to understand how lean works and how effective it can be when fully implemented. Again, not a secret. Why, then, do companies invariably fail in their pursuit of operational excellence?

The same reason people fail to trim fat through exercise. They don’t do it. They try to squeeze it into their schedule; they don’t make it part of their schedule. And, inevitably, it becomes less of a priority. In the same vein, too many business leaders see process improvement as a project, something separate from the more “pressing” goals of profits and growth.

That’s where they go wrong. And that’s where Building the Fit Organization comes in.

In this practical, hands-on guide Markovitz walks you step by step through the process of making lean as intrinsic to your company as the pursuit of profits. You will learn how to make an unshakeable commitment to increasing the value provided by doing the right work in the right way with continuous monitoring of processes and structured coaching for everyone.

You don’t need another book about lean. What you need to learn is how to make process improvement your company’s purpose.

Like a serious athlete, you’re warmed up. You know what lean is and how it can help your organization. Now it’s time to perform. Building the Fit Organization is the next step to creating a company that can compete on the toughest of playing fields.

Table of contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

  1. Commit to Improvement 9
  2. Increase Value, Don’t Cut Costs 33
  3. Think Horizontally 53
  4. Standard Work 77
  5. Visual Management 111
  6. The Coaching Triangle 133

Afterword 155

Appendix 1: Organizational Fitness Self-Assessment 159

Appendix 2: Resources 167

Notes 175

Index 183

Author comments

Dan Markovitz makes companies faster, more flexible, and more productive through the application of lean principles. He is a faculty member at the Lean Enterprise Institute and a lecturer at the Fisher College of Business. He holds a Stanford MBA, and received a Shingo Research Award for his first book, A Factory of One.

Back cover copy

“Dan Markovitz continues his enduring quest to help organizations, leaders, and people to contribute more with less, to improve effectiveness not just efficiency, to increase achievement and enjoyment.  He is a writer of noble intent, making an impact through the hard discipline of writing well.”  

– Jim Collins, author, Good to GreatBuilt to Last, and Great by Choice

“Outstanding performance is the goal. Organizational health is the means. And fitness is at the core of it all. Markovitz is spot on regarding his observations and recommendations for building a fit organization that thrills customers, thrives during difficult times, and provides a meaningful work environment for the employees who deserve nothing less.”

– Karen Martin, President, The Karen Martin Group, author, The Outstanding Organization

“Dan is one of today’s leading voices revealing the role of skill development in organizations, and how practice is a vital ingredient for acquiring new skill, mindset and making change really happen.”

– Mike Rother, author of Toyota Kata

“Dan brings to life the essence of a successful continuous improvement journey- it is all about the people. By reframing the journey as a quest for organizational fitness, Dan captures practical, profound insights that will drive any aspiring Lean organization to greater success.”

– Bob Chapman, CEO, Barry-Wehmiller

“Dan Markovitz is a remarkable sensei, and this book reflects his ability to take complex content and make it digestible and actionable. Dan makes us realize that lean is not a mystery that migrated from Japan but skills that anyone can master regardless of their industry or line of work. This book should encourage readers to use lean thinking at work and in their personal life.”

– Sherry Neubert, Chief Information Officer, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

“In writing Building the Fit Organization Dan Markovitz explains what it takes to become a successful Lean Organization without using any of the Lean jargon…making the subject more understandable and approachable.  And in doing so, he demonstrates that any organization, not just manufacturing, can become Fit.  For executives that have either avoided the subject until now, or those who have tried and struggled with it, Building the Fit Organization is required reading.”

– Orry Fiume, Vice President Finance-Retired: The Wiremold Company and co-author, Real Numbers:Management Accounting in a Lean Organization

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago … so to with starting the journey to organizational fitness. The second best time is TODAY.Building the Fit Organization shows you how, with specific first steps for next Monday morning. Thanks Dan Markovitz for sharing your wisdom. Whether personally, or organizationally, you remind us that there is always room for improvement.”

– Rich Sheridan, CEO, Chief Storyteller, Menlo Innovations, Author,Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love

“What do physical fitness and organizational fitness have in common? More than you think. Dan Markovitz’s ability to help you think in different ways about your organization makes Building the Fit Organization a must read for all leaders.”

– Helen Zak, President and COO,
ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value

“Dan is right: This book is not about running, and it is not about Toyota improvement methods. Nonetheless, the book shows how you can become a better runner if you follow a few principles, and how a company can improve by following those same principles. Dan has a remarkable talent in making things simple and proving that companies may already know most of what is needed to improve. No copying of Toyota concepts, no strange terms or ideas – just a little learning, hard work, and good coaching.”

– Norbert Majerus, Lean champion at The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and Author of Lean-Driven Innovation

“Dan Markovitz uses the fitness metaphor to provide great practical insights on lean transformation. The book is full of good thinking punctuated by thought provoking examples.”

– Peter Ward, Co-Director, Center for Operational Excellence, 
Fisher College of Business

“Dan does a fantastic job of presenting both the theory and the practical applications critical for moving towards being a fit company.  His approach is direct and easily translated into actionable items for today’s business leader.  As I read the book I found myself constantly making lists of actions that I later shared with my team so we could become a more fit organization.”

– Brian Thompson, General Manager, ExOfficio

  • “Dan has done it again with Building the Fit Organization. He has identified the essential shift and plan needed to create a fit organization. He has created the perfect analogy of linking the trifecta of key elements for creating a true Lean Enterprise Transformation (People, Process and Purpose) to a successful physical fitness plan. He identifies the key attributes in Process with the necessary horizontal flow and leader standard work. He defines the need for Servant Leadership and extensive coaching at all levels with the organizations most valuable asset, its People. He then draws the work out plan to cover an organizations Purpose with practical tools and elements for operational excellence and truly achieving the organizations purpose. A must read for all athletes of performance improvement.

– John M. Rubio, Vice President, Simpler NA/Truven Health Analytics

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Additional information

Weight 0.7 kg

McGraw Hill